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15 Reasons to Start Your Own Interior Design Firm

Are you debating starting your own Design firm, but you aren't sure what it takes? We've put together some of the reasons you might be well suited to start your own firm.

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FEBRUARY 15, 2021

It’s easy to see what makes starting your own design firm such an appealing career—you could trade in that daily commute and/or unfulfilling office job and instead spend your days looking at beautiful furniture and fabrics, meeting with interesting clients ready to invest in great design, or networking at influential interior design shows. Of course, the reality of starting your own interior design business involves countless additional layers: figuring out what to charge, marketing your talents, developing a website and social media strategy, securing reliable subcontractors, dealing with indecisive clients, traveling to showrooms and staying on top of your accounts payable. The truth is, starting your own interior design business requires a whole lot of hard work and hustle (not to mention plenty of talent). Still suspect that it’s your professional calling? Here are 15 reasons you might be ready to start your own interior design firm.

You want the opposite of a desk job. If you much prefer being up and about all day, interior design could be for you. One minute you’re at a job site talking to a plumber, the next you’re standing with clients flipping through floor plans, then you’re off to showrooms for the afternoon.

You crave being creative, technical and a boss. As an interior designer running her own firm, you’ll dream up concepts, figure out how to convey and implement them, and also manage subcontractors, your own office staff, clients and budgets. This requires a diverse mix of skills, but if you’re multifaceted in your strengths and interests, it can be satisfying to find a way to combine them.

You’re great at spotting talent. Whether you’re looking for an inventive carpenter or an assistant who takes initiative, making smart hires is a huge part of starting a successful interior design firm.

You enjoy trade shows and events. Going beyond your computer screen to explore new trends and products in person is crucial when you run your own interior design firm, as is relationship-building with vendors outside of email.

You know who your client is. Can you picture the exact type of person who’d love to hire you? Maybe you even have specific people in mind who you think would pay you for your design know-how. Before starting an interior design firm, you’ll need to know who your target customer is and what kind of budget they should have to make the work worth your time.

You’re great at marketing yourself. Once you know the client you’re after, you’ll need to figure out how to connect with her. A huge part of operating a successful interior design business is getting (and keeping) your name out there. If you want to start your own interior design firm, get ready to blog, put together a newsletter, advertise in local publications, post in local Facebook groups and collaborate with other creatives in your area.

You have a great portfolio. You won’t get far without professional-quality photos of completed projects that showcase your skill set and style. If you don’t have any (or enough), find a couple friends or family members who will let you redesign spaces for free but with full creative control—these projects can be your portfolio-starters and also help you launch your website and social.

You’re good at time management. Working for yourself means being ultra-efficient about how you divide up your days—and workdays probably won’t fall neatly within 9-to-5. It helps if you’re savvy at efficiently blocking out time to conquer tasks in batches, smart about scheduling appointments and willing to be flexible about when you can squeeze in extra work hours.

You can sell an idea. Having a natural knack for color and pattern or spatial relationships is one thing. Convincing someone to buy into your ideas is another entirely. Not only will you need to market yourself to potential clients, often you’ll need to work to get clients to give your brilliant ideas a chance.

You’re the ultimate problem solver. From figuring out how to make a tricky space flow better to helping a home finally reflect the owner’s personality to dealing with different personalities among your staff and your subcontractors, an interior design firm owner is constantly untangling issues and working out problems.  

You know how to manage client expectations. Another challenge of starting your own interior design firm is making sure you get compensated for your work. You’ll need to set clear parameters around what’s included in each project and what will cost extra, being careful to avoid scope creep. If you’re ready to be all business when it comes to sticking to the contract, that’s great—while if you’re someone who often feels uncomfortable asserting yourself, managing client expectations is one area that could feel challenging for you.

You’re ready to handle the bookkeeping. Yes, you can hire a professional to help with this, but it’s important to have a working sense of where things stand on your balance sheet. Here’s a cheat sheet that’ll give you an idea of what goes into tracking the numbers behind an interior design business.

You’re prepared to manage your online reputation. These days, starting your own interior design firm means getting serious about social media and SEO. As your business begins to grow, you’ll need to get used to regularly searching your company’s name to make sure reviews and mentions are positive, and respond proactively and effectively if they are not.

You’re ready to chase down your money. When you run your own interior design firm, it’s your job to keep the money flowing steadily through the pipeline. Easy-to-use platforms like Houzz Pro will help you stay on top of client invoices and expenses and follow up on them, but you’ll need to be ready to address any persistent problems that come up with getting paid.

You have new ideas and perspective to bring to the table. If you feel confident that you’d offer a fresh, unique perspective through starting your own interior design firm, that’s the most important reason of all to go for it.

Ready to branch out on your own? Explore our guide to Starting Your Own Interior Design Business next!

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